The board for the Southeast Area Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) decided Tuesday (Jan. 28) to move its annual winter rally from Florida’s Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport to the Sarasota County fairgrounds next year.

As reported by the Tampa Bay Tribune, the organization’s president, Jim Duncan, said the decision to leave the airport site after 16 years came down to economics. The lack of permanent facilities for meetings, workshops and entertainment wound up costing the association more than $150,000 for tent and generator rentals, plus other costs this year.

The Sarasota fairgrounds’ offer to the group includes the use of on-site buildings and other facilities for about $35,000.

“We hate having to leave Hernando,” Duncan said. “But we have to face reality and try to get more bang for our bucks. It was clear that wasn’t going to happen here.”

The decision was made at the association’s annual board meeting, traditionally held a couple of days before the winter rally, which is taking place this week at the Hernando airport.

Duncan said that many board members already had come to the conclusion that moving the event was probably the best thing they could do to save it.

The decision, Duncan said, “didn’t happen overnight” and had been in the works since the board threatened last year to move the event to Volusia County. Although officials with Hernando County, the airport and the Hernando County Aviation Authority promised to work with the association by reducing fees, offering to take over maintenance of the site and working to find a more permanent structure to house future events, many of those incentives never got past the talking stages, Duncan said.

“This has been going on for two years,” he said. “(The county) had plenty of opportunity to do something, but all they did was drag their feet.”

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